Thai chile-glazed sea bass

Restaurant Review: Chino Chinatown

The chicken lollipops are reason enough to dine.

Chef Uno Immanivong
Before chef Uno Immanivong won over Anthony Bourdain with her signature larb gai on ABC’s The Taste, she was a spunky Dallas home cook with a knack for flavors. Now Immanivong has a whole restaurant to show for it. Chino Chinatown, which opened in late December 2013, is her and co-owner Adrian Verdin’s Asian-Latin fusion baby. Painted across the back wall is a pretty, dolled-up girl named Lolita, a Latin geisha, who overlooks the entire red, gold, and black dining area. Even if you unroll your napkin and discover a pair of cheap, disposable chopsticks, you probably won’t need them. I didn’t. A good portion of the menu is finger food. Some appetizers, like the elote (drenched with Sriracha aioli, cilantro, and queso fresco), require a few hand wipes after handling the soggy corn-on-the-cob chunks. Skip the dry larb gai (a minced Thai chicken salad) and order the chicken lollipops. These agave-chile-glazed drumettes are brined overnight with ginger, fish sauce, and simple syrup; dressed in cornstarch; and fried to order until they’re piping hot. Crispy, crackly skin creates a delicate shell around tender and juicy chicken. Besides Immanivong, who greets every table with a warm smile and leaves with a fun little quip—“Hi, I’m Uno. I put a little crack over everything, a little magical crack so you’ll come back.”—the lollies are the biggest reason for a revisit.

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